As the 8th largest bank in North America by assets, BMO, is an independent American subsidiary of the multinational investment bank and financial services company Bank of Montreal, which owns BMO through the holding company BMO Financial Corporation. Headquartered in Chicago, BMO is drives progress for individuals, families and businesses primary in Midwest and West Coast markets. BMO's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States.
The bank is focused on creating an inclusive society by removing barriers to access traditionally found in the financial industry. BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion is part of a greater initiative called BMO-EMpower, a 40 Billion dollar commitment to “boldly grow the good” in communities across the country through a mix of philanthropy, community development, and minority commercial and small business lending.
BMO wanted to humanize the process of financial planning for diverse American and Canadian consumers and small business owners to reduce anxieties around money and help them achieve financial progress. The goal was to spark dialogue on how to save for emergencies, college, and the long-term, plan for retirement, invest, reduce debt, build credit responsibly, and navigate the housing market.
Actual was brought in to find creative activations that support BMO’s goal while developing highly-visible thought leadership platforms for its top executives, and garnering brand awareness through a robust media relations program. In February 2021, the team launced a multi-pronged, quarterly initiative called The Real Financial Progress Index (RFPI).
Year-over-year, the Real Financial Progress Index quarterly survey gains incredible momentum. Today, the survey measures sentiment and attributes around financial progress at the national level (U.S. and Canada) with oversampling in local markets in the U.S. and Canada. In partnership with Ipsos, a multinational market research and consulting firm, research is based on a set of core questions that over time are used to create an Index for a simple articulation of sentiment around Real Financial Progress.
The quarterly process:
The program has become such a big success that BMO is creating a separate website and initiative called Progresscenter.com which tethers to the overarching BMO brand.
As the survey expands, BMO and Actual continue to develop new focus segments, such as inflation and recession concerns and women and money. Top tier reporters seek out the RFPI results each quarter and many have now become BMO “friendlies.”